From the Editor:

Like the past two issues of Genesis, this fall edition came together through a little planning and preparation, and a lot of good luck.

Our friends at Wild River Books, Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy, had told us months ago about their work on the Scott McVay memoir, “Surprise Encounters.” Familiar with McVay’s interests and research into the cognitive abilities of whales and dolphins, we immediately thought that a chapter or two could be excerpted to satisfy our goal of including one science-oriented piece in each issue. Stocke and Nagy had earmarked some chapters of scientific interest, but also sent along a digital version of the entire book. Despite our impending deadline we ended up reading almost all of it. McVay’s memoir is also a wonderful peak into Princeton’s academic, literary, and arts communities.

We knew about Princeton mathematician John Conway thanks to the Pi Day exploits of his son, Gareth. At that annual March 14 (3.14) pi recitation contest, Gareth is a perennial winner. So when we spotted a New York Times review of Siobhan Roberts’ biography, “Genius at Play,” we raced off to buy a copy. Managing editor Sara Hastings took it home first, to identify an excerpt that would introduce Conway and his theories to our readers. She didn’t bring it back immediately. Then she took it with her on a week’s vacation. A book about math that is also a page-turner — what’s the probability of that?

Since this is our fall issue, our attention was also diverted by the usual thoughts of, yes, football. Wouldn’t it be something, we wondered out loud one day at the office, if we could tease out an essay on the creative process as it relates to the game of football?

Arts editor Dan Aubrey heard the call and asked us to hold a little space. He returned with a Q&A with former Rutgers professor and sculptor Mel Edwards that had been done in connection with an Edwards retrospective, now on view at the Zimmerli in New Brunswick. Edwards, a football player at USC in the late 1950s, relates the dynamics of football to the planning of a sculpture piece.

We thank the Strand magazine, one of the rare publications devoted to printing fiction, for uncovering the F. Scott Fitzgerald story from the archives at Princeton’s Firestone Library. As we plucked out a telling excerpt from “Temperature,” written in the year before his death in 1940, we thought back to our classmate from Princeton 1969: Tim Lanahan, Fitz­gerald’s grandson. Lanahan left the class in 1967, and served with the Army in Vietnam. In addition to Vietnamese, he spoke Gaelic, French, and German. In 1972 he graduated with honors from UC-Davis. In 1973 Lanahan took his own life. As the New York Times wrote of his grandfather at the time of his death: “The promise of his brilliant career was never fulfilled.”

— Richard K. Rein

rein@princetoninfo.com

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